Chakra Energising Tantra Healing What is Tantra

The History of Tantra: What is Tantra?

Tantra is part of Indian spiritual studies, which has a considerable number of texts devoted to its teachings and practices dating back to the 5th-9th century AD.  Many people often accuse Tantra of being black magic, witchcraft, voodoo or involving evil spells and curses. However, in reality, Tantra represents an enlightened Indian tradition and it represents a significant practical aspect of the Vedic heritage. This is because the spiritual attitude of the tantriks is virtually identical to that of the Vedic followers. It is often stated that Tantra is a part of the main Vedic tree and the more rigourous aspects of Vedic religion was further developed in the Tantras. In simple terms, tantriks will either worship Lord Shiva or Goddess Shakti.

Where does “Tantra” come from and what does it mean?

The term ‘tantra’ comes from an amalgamation of the words “tattva” and “mantra”. “Tattva” means the science of cosmic principles, while “mantra” refers to the science of mystic sound and vibrations. Therefore Tantra can be considered as the application of cosmic sciences with the intention to reach spiritual ascendancy. However, another interpretation of Tantra is the scripture by which the light of knowledge is spread: Tanyate vistaryate jnanam anemna iti tantram. In this regard, there are essentially two schools of Indian scriptures – “Agama” and “Nigama”. Agamas are “those which are revelations” while Nigama are “the traditions”. Tantra is an Agama and this is why it can be called “srutishakhavisesah”, meaning that it is a subsect of the Vedas.

In practical and modern terms, the word “Tantra” means “to weave, to expand, and to spread”, and according to tantrik masters, the fabric of life can provide true and ever-lasting fulfilment only when all the threads are woven according to the pattern designated by nature. When we are born, life naturally forms itself around that pattern. But as we grow, our desire, ignorance, fear, attachments, and false images of others and ourselves tangle and tear the threads, disfiguring the fabric. Tantra “sadhana” or practice reweaves the fabric, thereby restoring the original pattern. The sciences and practices pertaining to mudras, pranayama, hatha yoga, astrology, rituals, mandala, nada yoga, kundalini yoga, visualization of dieties, alchemy, mantra, ayurveda and hundreds of esoteric practices for generating worldly and spiritual prosperity blend perfectly in the tantrik disciplines.

Tantra is different to other ancient traditions because it takes a holistic approach to a person as an entire being, thereby also taking their worldly desires into account. This is very different from other spiritual traditions, which tend to teach people to separate the desire for material pleasures away from spiritual aspirations. Even though many people can be drawn into spiritual beliefs and practices, they also have a natural, instinctive urge to fulfil their innermost sexual desires. Tantra is a unique practice that reconciles the apparent dichotomy between spirituality and sexuality.


Tantric Scriptures, Methods and Terminology

As previously mentioned the two main deities worshipped are Shiva and Shakti. In Tantra there is also an enormous significance of “bali” or, in other words, animal sacrifices. The most vigorous aspects of Vedic traditions evolved as one type of system of knowledge in the ‘Tantras’. However, in all of this, the Atharva Veda is thought to be one of the essential tantrik scriptures. All in all, there are 18 “Agamas”, which are also known as Shiva Tantras, and they tend to be ritualistic in nature. In total there are three separate tantrik traditions – Vama, Madhyama  and Dakshina. They represent the three “shaktis” or powers of Shiva and are characterised by the three “gunas” (i.e. qualities) – “tamas”, “rajas” and “sattva”. The Dakshina tradition is characterised by the “sattva” branch of Tantra, which is essentially for good purpose, the Madhyama is characterised by “rajas” is of mixed nature, while the Vama is characterised by “tamas” and this the most impure form of Tantra.

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